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Turns of the Centuries Exhibit > Newcomers 1780-1820
This theme in other eras: 1680-1720 | 1780-1820 | 1880-1920

Newcomers 1780-1820


Americans transformed themselves from British subjects into republican citizens in the years following the American Revolution. This process included abandoning or altering old institutions that did not match new assumptions and beliefs. State churches gradually lost their favored status, stimulating an intense period of religious exploration and experimentation. Farming remained the primary occupation and lifestyle for most Americans in this period, but new technologies and an expanding economy transformed traditional agrarian patterns and customs. The Industrial Revolution enabled even ordinary people to purchase factory-made textiles and other mass-produced goods they could not obtain before. Among the most far-reaching effects of the Industrial Revolution was the social and economic newcomer it produced. Factory workers were not farmers, nor were they tradesmen or artisans. They often lived in factory housing. They structured their days around a clock and a factory bell rather than ancient agricultural rhythms.

George Washington, from "Illustrated American Biography," 1853

See the Digital Collection for further information.

Explore these subthemes to better understand Newcomers at this time.

New Groups

New Groups : A New Society

Americans abandoned or modified old institutions as they transformed themselves from British subjects to republican citizens.


Working : An Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution introduced a new type of worker into American society and its economy.


Beliefs : An Age of Optimism

Americans' optimism about mankind's ability to improve itself and the world abounded after the Revolution.


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